What is ABA Therapy?
ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis, basically meaning we are focusing on learning and behavior. Essentially, we want to know how behavior works, how learning can take place, and how both are affected by the environment. We ultimately want to increase behaviors that are beneficial for growth, learning, and independence while also decreasing behaviors that may be harmful or negatively affect learning and independence over time.
Although often described as the “solution” in decreasing challenging or dangerous behaviors, ABA therapy can also focus on increasing many skills including communication, social skills, self-care, play skills, motor skills, and academics. The methods of behavior analysis have been used and studied for decades. Behavior analysis has been a proven therapy in supporting positive behavioral change with individuals diagnosed with ASD.
There are several techniques used within an ABA program, all of which are tailored for each learner after numerous observations and specific assessments. There is no “one size fits all”. Every program is written to help each learner reach their specific goals.
The Treatment Team
BCBA or BCBA- D (Doctorate)
Board-Certified Behavior Analyst- is a person with a certification in applied behavior analysis. BCBAs receive this certification through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. BCBAs are the clinicians responsible for assessments, treatment recommendations and planning, training and supervising therapists, and overseeing your child's treatment progress.
Board- Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst -.have similar responsibilities as a BCBA but are required to be supervised by a BCBA or BCBA-D (doctoral-level BCBA) who is a certified supervisor
Registered Behavior Technician- is the therapist that typically works directly with your child within sessions. They are trained in following your child’s specific treatment plan and most importantly collecting data. RBT’s practice under the direction and close supervision of the BCBA or BCaBA.
What ABA is NOT: Some Common Misconceptions or Myths
- ABA composes of “drilling” exercises at the table
- ABA sessions should be fun, engaging, and across multiple locations
- There are many techniques used within a session to teach new skills and they are not always at the table. Naturalistic teaching or teaching while naturally occurring activities are events are commonly integrated in ABA programs. This can occur during transitions, while playing games, or during conversations.
- Although DTT (discrete trial training) at the table may be used to teach certain skills or teaching methods include:
- Verbal behavior intervention- focusing on verbal skills
- Pivotal Response Training- work to increase child’s motivation to learn, self-monitor behaviors, and initiate communication with others
- Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)- teaching method for very young learners
- All ABA programs are the same
- Each program or treatment plan is vastly different from another.
- No two children are the same, so no two programs should be the same
- Individualization is the key to success and is the ultimate goal in changing specific behaviors
- ABA therapy is only for children with Autism
- ABA therapy is a proven treatment therapy for children diagnosed with Autism but the principles and techniques of ABA can foster positive results for all individuals. Applied behavior analysis focuses on learning and behavior, so these techniques can be applied to all living organisms that exhibit behavior. From a child learning play skills, an adult trying to lose weight or quit smoking, an athlete training to get better results, to an organization working to increase employee engagement.